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Cubs Fri Jul 08 2011

Are the Cubs Dead or Not?

Thumbnail image for cubs.gifIt's no secret the Chicago Cubs have been flat out awful in 2011. Odds are they won't make the playoffs, though nothing is officially settled yet. But Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times is talking as if they are already eliminated. Upon reading this I became perplexed.

Did I sleep until September? Perhaps Wittenmyer meant to save this for September when the Cubs are really out of it, but somehow it got published ahead of schedule.

Kidding aside, the Cubs' chances are very remote at this point. They're 36-53 even after squeezing past Washington in the ninth inning Thursday (to avoid a four-game sweep), and no team in baseball history has ever made the playoffs after falling more than 16 games under .500.

But it's not mathematically over yet.

There are a lot of "what if's" with this Cubs team. I think the biggest one being what if they were healthy.

Say Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner didn't succumb to injury in the first week in the season. The biggest thing to come from this would've been stability in the starting rotation. The Cubs really shot themselves in the foot by giving away starts by running James Russell out there every fifth day for about the first month and a half. That was their first mistake.

OK, say they had no injuries to this point. Would they really contend? My gut says yes because there is too much talent on this team for them not to, but it is hard for any of them to get in any kind of rhythm with the the revolving door of personnel coming and going between Chicago and Iowa on what seems to be a bi-weekly basis.

I believe that injuries are what have killed any chances this team had at contending this year. Those injuries have had a trickle-down effect. Injuries lead to inconsistencies which lead to bad fundamentals so on and so forth.

Continuing the "what if?" theme: This weekend's visit to Pittsburgh is the Cubs' final series of the first half. Barring any last-minute setbacks, they should go into the second half at full strength with the exception of Cashner. Perhaps they could turn it around in the latter half.

As I said, it is going to take a historic miracle for this team to make the playoffs. They're in fifth place in the NL Central, 11 games back. I'm not saying it'll happen, but it would sure make for one hell of a story to tell the grandkids.

 
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